The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild‘s map will be the largest in the series, but details circulating the internet this week suggest that the map will “dwarf” the likes of Skyrim, potentially falling just short of Xenoblade Chronicles X‘s massive world.
Nintendo has dropped some hints in regards to how big the Breath of the Wild map will be, while those who have tested out its demo have also been able to take a closer look at the size of its world on the game’s map screen. While there isn’t any official confirmation regarding its exact size, I’ve done some digging in order to try to determine just how much bigger than Skyrim the map will be, and ascertain exactly how accurate this latest round of speculation is.
Firstly, there’s a pretty overwhelming image that’s been doing the rounds on Facebook and Twitter this week, apparently having emerged from a Zelda fan page. According to this image, Skyrim measures in it 41.44 km² while Breath of the Wild is supposedly 360 km². This leads to a huge difference in map size, as outlined by the visual approximation given below:
In reality, the map actually oversells Skyrim by a couple of kilometers, with its commonly accepted size being around the 39 km² mark. This would effectively mean that Breath of the Wild will be 9.2 times bigger than Skyrim, but this number is based upon accepting the speculation that the new Zelda‘s map will be 360 km². This number is an estimation posted by Eggplante, who were able to take a photo of the full Breath of the Wild map (later confirmed by other screenshots), with the site claiming that each square on the map translates to 1 km². When lined up with Nintendo’s statement to Polygon that the small portion of the map featured in the demo was roughly 1% of the game’s world, this number seems more feasible.
But what about Nintendo’s own comments that the game’s map is only “12 times” the size of Twilight Princess, which had a relatively paltry sized world of just under 1 km²? Well, considering that this would seemingly contradict what we know about Breath of the Wild‘s map thus far, it is very possible that Nintendo was taking into account all of that game’s dungeons and other stages, rather than just its small overworld.
Judging by these numbers, it’s very reasonable to assume that it beats Skyrim — but how does it stack up to other games? One of the most beloved open-world games in recent memory, The Witcher 3’s map pre-DLC came in at 136 km², while Grand Theft Auto V measured in at 81 km². Meanwhile, the massive Xenoblade Chronicles X was roughly around 400 km², though players could traverse across it using speedy mechs whereas Breath of the Wild players will mostly have to rely on their horse, Epona.
According to a video from YouTuber Arekkz, walking across Breath of the Wild‘s demo map takes 3 minutes and 40 seconds, which would mean that it would take about 1 hour and 20 minutes to make a journey from north to south on its full map. However, this fails to include obstacles that the map will no doubt present. For comparison, it takes roughly one hour to make the same north to south journey in both The Witcher 3 and Grand Theft Auto V.
It remains to be seen just how accurate these numbers are, but regardless The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is going to be the biggest Zelda game yet, and will likely provide early Nintendo Switch adopters with a lot of entertainment for months to come. Let’s just hope Nintendo packs it with things to do, because no one likes an empty open world.